Photo Essays, Spot News and Stock Photography
Ukraine c.1980


If you appreciate great photography you will recall with admiration Steve McCurry’s photograph “Afghan Girl”. His photo of Sharbat Gula in an Afghan refugee camp in 1984 was on the cover of National Geographic in June 1985. A haunting image it has stood the test of time and remains a truly outstanding work. Attention is now given to the war in Ukraine, so when we came upon “Ukrainian Girl” c.1980 we immediately made the connection with Sharbat Gula. Maybe it’s her eyes that captivate us as was the case with Gula’s. In any event this photo came to us direct from Kyiv, a city without power and water in the middle of a war zone. Speaks volumes about Ukrainians.


Ukraine, c.1938


The mail must go through! We recently purchased several photos from Ukraine. Shown here is “Ukrainian Wedding“, c.1938. This is a traditional Ukrainian wedding scene. But the country is now at war! This photo came to us by way of Kyiv and with power and water cuts to Kyiv delivery could be in peril. The photo arrived in a little over a week. Future deliveries in these wartime conditions may never arrive. Mail from some European countries has taken as long as a month or longer to reach the United States and they are not in an active war situation. A people as steadfast as the Ukrainians need to be saved.


Ukrainian Postal System


With all of the attention given to the Green Revolution these days it may be easy for some to forget that we have a 200-year supply of coal available in the United States. For folks in communities in Appalachia, in particular, coal is a vital topic of conversation. Our collection of photos concerning coal operations has grown recently as we present five of our latest additions in this blog. The “Elk Horn Coal Corporation – Mine 328”- Prestonburg, Kentucky,  shows the mine in operation about one year after the first coal car was loaded from the coal tipple in 1915. The two “Coal Tower” photos are classic as they incorporate the surrounding steam locomotives and railroad tracks. We believe the location to be somewhere in Appalachia. “Mining Town” was photographed around 1920 somewhere in the U. S. A typical mining town it depicts living conditions of miners married to their work in the mine and undoubtedly paid in script. “Coal Mine Shaft” was shot in New Mexico c.1949 by Jack Kew. A miner is shown working in the belly of the beast.

Appalachia, c.1908


Time to play detective once again. We know about the when. The when is about 1908. Now for the where. That’s coal dust. It is all over the children, the umbrella, the house, and just about everywhere you look. That means Appalachia. My thinking is southern Appalachia, maybe northern Alabama just from the look of things. Note the toy gun in the hands of the little girl in the center of the first row. Also note what appears to be a scar on her left leg. A boot cleaner is at the lower left so that is probably mud all over the bottom step which shows white in the photo. You can tell a lot from a photo if you take the time to see things.


Hardscrabble Kids“; Appalachia c.1908

Vienna Woods, Austria (1950)


Today is the 4th anniversary of my triple bypass heart surgery. Had it not been successful you would not now be reading this blog. Life is good. “The Russian Zone“; Vienna Woods, Austria (1950). If the West had not stood firm Austrians would be speaking Russian today. But we did. A lesson here for the brave citizens of Ukraine. If Putin is successful with the annexation of the occupied territories (Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Lukansk and Donestsk) you might see similar Russian zone signs this time in Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine!

Moscow, Russian Federation (April 1970)


Q. “Conan, what is best in life?”

A. “To crush your enemies. See them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”

Two snakes and a black sun. Mr. Putin, this may have been the playbook for Genghis Khan but that was 825 years ago. 33 generations have passed. And Mr. Putin you’re no Genghis Khan. The world is not the same any longer and you too will be relegated to the dustbin of history. St. Basil’s was built during the reign of “Ivan The Terrible”.

St. Basil’s Cathedral“; Moscow, Russian Federation (April 1970)


The Shinnecock powwow is held annually on the reservation in Southampton, N. Y. during the Labor Day weekend. It was not held during the last two years because of the Covid_19 pandemic. The Shinnecock decided to open this year and I attended on the third day of the event. Much of the hype surrounding the powwow involves the dancing competitions, and years ago I photographed many of the dancers. This year I was determined to get behind the scene and photograph the vendors who participated in the event. Make no mistake the powwow is a money making deal mainly for the Shinnecock. Vendors travel from great distances to set up their wares. They travel in motor homes and parking for them is $100.00 so I learned. Prices may be adjusted according to the size of the RV so perhaps a Winnebago might be charged more. Vendors’ stalls seem to run upwards from approximately $750.00 for the four day event. I stopped at one vendor’s stall and she told me that she was being charged $1100.00 and had yet to break even. Admission to the powwow for adults is $15.00, $10.00 for seniors and military and less for children. The items on display for sale are not all made by native peoples in the United States, Central or South America so you have to be careful about your purchases. As always, the really fine native-made items are expensive.

I had to decide on how I was going to shoot this powwow, and it would be very different from my last trip. As the stalls are cramped I decided to use a wide angle lens to incorporate as much of inside as possible. Shooting portraits presented a challenge so you have to do some thinking before you compose. Using a 12 megapixel DSRL made sense as going larger to 24 or 36 megapixels would only slow down my workflow, and I estimated that I might shoot about 30 images. As it happened 32 was the number. So I went to the powwow packing my Nikon D3 and a Nikon 18-35mm AF-D f/3.5-4.5 zoom lens. Aperture priority, auto ISO and RAW 14-bit uncompressed for all of you techies reading this blog.

Shinnecock Powwow. Southampton, N. Y. September 4, 2022


Just because my Nikon D3 can shoot at 11 fps doesn’t mean that I have to use it that way. One shot, one kill. Old school. The only thing that is sure to happen if you use a camera as if it were a machine gun is that you will have to replace your shutter sooner rather than later. So I attended the Shinnecock Powwow at Southampton, N. Y. this weekend with the purpose of taking some portrait photos if possible. I would argue that most photographers would have chosen to use a portrait lens for this purpose, perhaps a Nikon 85mm or 105mm. But I think that the best way, the more difficult way is to use wide angle. Why? Because only with a wide angle can you capture your subject in the context of their natural habitat as it were.

I actually like a certain degree of barrel distortion which may set me apart from other photographers. You have to pay more attention to variables in trying to shoot portraits with wide angle lenses, but I think the results can be spectacular as in the case of “Vendors of the Sacred Stone“. These are the technical details of the photo: Nikon D3, 18mm-35mm AF-D f/3.5-4.5, 18mm, f/11, ISO 500 and 1/400. Most importantly, aperture priority and RAW 14-bit uncompressed!


As a garage sale junkie myself I thought that I would share this experience with you. I have been to countless garage sales over many decades. I have entered basements chocked full of items where you had to enter at your own risk. They could have charged admission just to see the place. Today’s yard sale presented here ranks up with the best of them in terms of square yards of junk, junk and more junk. As it happens I know the seller of this sale. Not a friend of mine, but I know him from the neighborhood. The ultimate hoarder without question. Now at the end of his life it is time to sell. But his prices today were ridiculous and in keeping with his normal way of doing business. Now, I don’t try to chisel at yard sales. I like a good bargain like everyone else, but I also don’t mind paying a fair price. His prices were as high if not higher than they would be at a fashionable antique store. Lots of junk, in my opinion, lots of lookers but most folks just walked away. It will all wind up in multiple dumpsters soon enough. Email me at for more details.

Babylon Garage Sale“; Babylon, N. Y. (August 27, 2022)